Day 14, Post 13: Today was the most spectacular ride of the entire trip so far, and that's saying a lot, given how beautiful the American southwest is. I started in Silver City, NM, and climbed almost 5000 feet over Emory Pass. I have done other big passes on my bike, most notably Carson and Wolf Creek passes in the Sierra and the Rockies. But those passes were on better grades and more trafficked roads. Emory Pass, in contrast, is incredibly windy, extraordinarily steep, and sparsely trafficked. And stunning. Although it's a climb that challenge any takers, its a thrilling ride, especially on the downhill side. Given the steep descent and constant curves, one gets to feeling pretty sporty. And that is a welcome relief - and a reward - given how hard it is to get to the top.
I learned over lunch in San Lorenzo what I am allergic to. It's Juniper, and it's a common affliction here at this time of year (well, earlier and earlier - this year it's been bad since January). A local pointed out a tree loaded with berry flowers and pollen, and as I cycled on, I could see how much Juniper there is. It's a very common tree, and there's no escaping its pollen.
Every day I seem to race the sun to complete my ride. Today I finished in Hillsboro, a charming town with few amenities that doesn't seem to have added a building since the 1940's. There are no billboards, no fast food restaurants and no gas marts. The only restaurant in town closes at 3 pm. Imagine my puzzlement - I expected a place to eat or a grocery, because it was almost warm enough to camp but I needed food. So I ended up at the only B&B (The Enchanted Villa - a traditional and large adobe home) where I was rescued by a very nice proprietor who agreed to cook me dinner as well as breakfast for a very modest price. So I am once again able to renew myself. I wonder what adventures lie ahead? Tomorrow I head to Las Cruces.
Check out my road cycling activity on Garmin Connect.
Aaron and Kimmy, westbound Southern Tier cyclists I met on the way up the pass.
A view from the top. Given that the Mexican border is probably less than 100 miles from here, you can get a sense of the elevation by the snow.
Marker on the pass.
Several shots of the landscape nearby.